Annual India Tours
These lectures were transcribed by T Vd Broek. Heartfelt
gratitude is offered for all the hours of work spent on this Dharma activity.
These talks are offered free of charge. They have been slightly edited.
May 13 1990
Since today is Mother's day, I thought it would be appropriate to do a mother meditation.
In the Mahayana tradition of meditation, universal love and compassion is very important. In the general ideal of Buddhism, it is held to be the ultimate. The attaining nirvana is held to be the ultimate quenching of the deluded mind and suffering of inflicted emotions. Then one attains the everlasting peace and happiness. In the Mahayana it is said that although that attainment is everlasting happy, it is not a complete attainment, it is still to the side of an extreme, because if one strives for that, then one is still actually grasping still to oneself in the sense that one self must have everlasting happiness. And that is important. So, in that way there is still a generation of selfish concern although it is aimed at not being tied with delusion, it is still an emphasis on one's desire to be free from suffering.
We do all want to be free from suffering. But, on the side of striving for a complete goal, in the sense of not being in any one extreme, and also on the side of fulfilment, nirvana can not be qualified as being an ultimate attainment. It is an attainment in the extreme of peace as in being everlasting happiness for self alone.
In the Mahayana tradition the emphasis is on the middle path, to always find the the middle. In that there is the aspiration towards the ultimate attainment of full and complete attainment seen to be the attainment of enlightenment of a Buddha. Nirvana can be attained by arhats. Although the Buddha has been termed as an arhat, he is actually referred to as a samaya arhat, the complete Buddha, the full Buddha who has gone beyond the extreme of striving for peace alone, but having attained everlasting peace, can still function in the world. It is said that in attaining the ultimate peace, nirvana, the mind if it absorbs in it's meditation into the consciousness of that nirvana, it actually can engage external objects. So when you realize nirvana the mind introverts and lives in that conscious experience and cannot function with external objects, for a lesser being. If one was not to grasp at nirvana, then one goes beyond that. And you continue to perfect your own conception of self is, you perfect that through practices of love and compassion and generosity and such. If you think of those, if the practice of generosity or love and compassion is cultivated in a non extreme manner, rather practiced in balance, then obviously all of those types of feelings are expansive. They go beyond the self. If you think of generosity, it becomes conscious of another's needs and is generous towards that person.
There is the generosity of giving love to another person. Giving your support, your time. All of those mean the mind is expanding or is open, it is not closed off. So it is said for a practitioner who wishes a full or perfect attainment, not a lop sided attainment, although one has conscious access to nirvana which is a mind absorbed in that realization, in the non meditative time, when they are not absorbed, they then practice the six perfections, love and compassion, kindness, charity, whatever seems appropriate at the time. Because that cultivates an expansive mind.
In your non meditative time you are developing a consciousness which is encompassing all the world around in a very positive reference. An expansive mind. Not looking as to what can I get from these people. Take myself in relating to you. I might look at what can I get from you? Prestige, power, control, something like that. That is very negative point of view. If I have any sort of Mahayana instinct in my mind, I do not think about those things. I think about what can I share with you to help you become more enlightened or something.
And so in each one of your relationships with those you interact with. How is your relationship? Is your mind nice to those people because you get something back? You get back security, love and affection, whatever. Some sort of material gain or something. If your mind has that type of an attitude, it shows you still have negativity, you still nave a grasping to self, you are still actually involved in a deluded way of relating with others.
So a Bodhisattva works towards overcoming the sense of selfish need or self concern by generating altruistic love and compassion. In their meditative time, they generate the realization of the selflessness, of non self existence, and in the regular time, non meditative time, they generate an attitude which is expansive and open minded, generous and compassionate. So it does not have the reflection, if I am nice to you, I get it back! Rather it is just a kindness and consideration. Within that there are beautiful things that come back. The joy and happiness of actually being kind to others, if you get into that attitude, it increases your desire to be more and more pure in your love and compassion with others because there is great joy in that!
That is the ideal of the Mahayana tradition. Rather than emphasis self suffering, self concern, and then striving for eternal peace, the practitioner develops definitely access to nirvana, but realizing that is an extreme, they also practice the bodhisattva attitude, the attitude of love and compassion. By practicing that continuously and not grasping to either extreme, not just working all the time in the outside world, or on the other side, just grasping to everlasting peace and bliss which is a personal attainment, by balancing those two, finally there is an attainment of full enlightenment. And it is said that when the practitioner is successful in attaining full enlightenment, the mind can have, in the same moment, be in the realization of nirvana which is realizing the sunyata, the non self existence, but at the same moment due to it's long familiarity with love and compassion, those open minded states of consciousness, and function at the same time with the outside world.
So it is said that Buddhahood, enlightenment, has the qualifications of both being everlastingly blissful, nirvana, and still capable of functioning in the relative world with love and compassion for sentient beings. So there is the two fulfillments. So you have the fulfilment of on a relative level, engaging in works for others, and the ultimate level, which is one's own personal attainment, nirvana. And that is seen as being complete. There is nothing beyond that. On the relative level, you have interactions. On the ultimate level, you have your conscious experience. And so it is said that is why the Mahayana tradition, enlightenment is said to be the full attainment. It does not have the extreme of being caught up in the outside world, and it does not have the extreme of striving for personal nirvana only. There is balance. And that is why we are going to meditate on the mothers.
The reason for the mother meditation is to gain that balance and to have a more open attitude. In regards to one's mother meditation, it is said that one should first meditate on one's own mother and what energy one's own mother has put into oneself. And having done that, then one should meditate on the thought that if there are previous lifetimes, if there is a continuity of consciousness, not just a one time shot, sort of conscious this one life time only and then dead. If it isn't that, that there is a continuity in consciousness as in for example, from yesterday to today, we were unconscious for a certain while. Night time. We didn't know what was going on. But the next morning we wake up. We know what went on yesterday. We had feelings about yesterday, about what happened three years ago, five years ago. So there is definitely an imprint in our mind which is regenerated each day. So on the basis of this simplistic idea, it says although when we die we loose the physical body, the energy of our mind, which is based upon the subtle stream of consciousness, that is what will go from one life time to the next. And with that stream of consciousness will go the imprints. Not the actual activities, but the imprint of the type of attitude we have. The way that we on a deeper level related to other people. That will be what will bring about the future rebirth.
If there is that stream of consciousness and there are previous lifetimes, in Buddhism it says there is no beginning nor is there no end. So if there is no beginning, that means there is no first lifetime. It is not like at some time there was nothing and some God creator or something and suddenly you came into being. In Buddhism the concept says there was no beginning. Time is infinite.
Like in space, now they know that billions of light years away there are other galaxies. That is a lot of time and space in there. To think there is no beginning to time. And if there is no beginning to time, and what is referred to as beginningless mind also, the mind that never had an original beginning. It is just mind going through various cycles of change depending on the karma and the world or environment that particular sentient being gets born into. So that is all it is. It is processes of change. Whether in this solar system or galaxy, or another system, and our mind stream travels there in it's subtle state, there is the continuous non beginning non ending stream of consciousness.
So in those various rebirths we have taken, whether in this world or others prior to this world's existence, in each are birth, you can also guarantee that there has been a mother and a father. There has been the necessity for that. If we look around the world, there has always been a mother and a father, some creature has given the condition or the circumstance for you to take another rebirth.
We have a mother and a father. The various animals all have a mother and a father. Insects! So all of the creatures we can perceive with our eyes, all have circumstances for their rebirths whether it is just the laying of an egg, or a higher evolution of taking the care and giving of warmth or nutrients, all creatures have had parents. And if you think on a beginningless time scale, there are only so many creature in this world. It is almost certain that at sometime or another in the scale of time, that you have had relationships with them as family. And beyond this world system and other world systems, we have had relationships with them too! They say karma is definite. That because of karmic relationships, we again and again meet sentient beings from previous lifetimes and we work our karmic dramas with them.
In this way, if you are deeply into Buddhism, you have to think that all sentient beings have possibly been your mother. So that is why in Buddhist prayers, you will say all my mother sentient beings, referring to all of the sentient beings which have been as one point or another, have been my mother. And so I should work for the benefit of all mother sentient beings.
Why should I work for my mother sentient beings? Because all of the creatures, even in this one lifetime, of all the beings which have been meaningful for you, you mother has been the most meaningful for you. Whether she gave birth to you and died, or whatever. All sorts of interesting circumstances, really, if was not for your mother, you would not have your existence right now. Although the father was instrumental, it is said that the majority of kindness you receive for having our existence in this lifetime, the majority will fall to the side of our mother.
Think of this person. There is this person in the world who having had a relationship with a man, then took inside you and allowed you to grow. A baby! It is not like this baby is sweet and good and never does anything wrong, it puts the mother through hell. She starts off with morning sickness. She is getting sick, her body goes through major changes and she experiencing all of that pain, you can not call that wonderful. And as time goes on she has to eat properly and take care of her health because you are inside of her. She can not be unconscious of the fact that she is carrying a child. And during that time, all of the hardships she goes through, she is actually thinking with joy about you inside of her. So the person is spending a lot of time and energy in the production of you as a person.
Finally she goes to the hospital, and under goes difficult labor and major pain to deliver you. Yet as soon as she gives birth, she does not worry about her self, her first thought is you. Her feelings, although she as been through pain, are immediately forgotten because she is focused in on you and are you healthy and happy. The overall feeling of your mother, even if your parents were disciplinarian or horrible, if you look into the feeling of it, it was that person wanted the best for you. If you touch base with the feeling behind the way they interacted with you. It was, I want to best for the child.
So the majority of the kindness you will experience will fall to the mother's side. Her kindness does not stop after the nine months of carrying you, it goes through the changing of diapers! Continuously caring for you, making sure you are fed, warm, it is literally you have one mind and two bodies for a woman. She has her own body and also this little body that is totally dependant on her. And that other body doesn't just sit there quietly and grow naturally, it cries, it wakes her up at all hours of the night! There is a person in the world who has gotten up many times each night to care for you, make sure you are healthy, not crying too much! She did it hundreds of times in the five, ten, fifteen years you were with her.
Each day she got up and her thoughts were about her child, is the child alright, dressed the child, fed the child, helped the child grow and play and what she could do for it. They spent a lot of time and energy on you. It was not just for a week or two or a month or two. It was year after year, to try to make you happy and give you the best that she could offer. If she had very little food, the first thing she does is give the food to the child. A woman's feelings are that strong that she would first give to the child before herself. So there is a person who exists who has done all of this for you. Not for anyone else. For you to be happy and grow up to the point you are at right now.
So allow your mind to go into that and all of the levels of kindness that your mother has given you. She has given you your body. She has helped you grow in the early years of your life. She has helped you to eat and guide you in how to eat properly. To learn how to clothe yourself, take care of yourself, clean yourself. This person has spent a lot of time energy teaching each one of those things. Taught you how to walk. In the majority, your mother would have taught you how to do all of that.
Ask you grew up she spent time looking for the right clothes for you wear so you looked good. Maybe she wouldn't spend money on herself for her wardrobe. So you came first.
That is your mother meditation for this evening. First to meditate on your own mother and touch base with some of the emotions. The important think within this is to have a conception that there is a person existent which has done a lot of kind things for you, a lot of time and energy for you. So start to recognize who has thought more of you than they have thought of themselves, particularly in your younger years, alright.
Copyright 1994 Daka's Buddhist Consulting
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